Life Worth Living was a popular television show featuring Bishop Fulton Sheen that first appeared on the Du Mont TV Network on Tuesday night February 12, 1952. Today in the spirit of the same message, I dedicate a series of articles entitled Living The Worthy Life. Since it has been almost seventy years since the beginning of that show, much has changed in America and world-the largest of which is the focus of today’s article-our view of the world and our view of ourselves in it.
In the last show of Spring of 1952, Bishop Fulton Sheen told his audience, “The whole world is sick- our greatest problem is communism.” Today those words appear to some to be outdated but are they? He continued by explaining that America would not fall unless from within. “Something died in the western world. When a civilization begins to die there begins to be seen vultures that will pick apart society. Communism is the scavenger of a dying civilization. It picks apart the dying civilization from within and consumes it.”
Then in the first ten minutes of show he explained that after the conversion of Russia, that country will be force of well being for the western world. He then explained that this would be because “Russia has fire and zeal.”
Now, many may not see how these comments are worthy today. The problem is that they are horribly wrong. In the 1950’s many people embraced the Church. Church attendance was over 60% each week, Today less than 20% of all Catholics attend Church weekly and greatest problems facing the Church today is the simple fact that less than 10% of the children are attending Church weekly. To some this means that Bishop Sheen was wrong and that somehow America has tried Christianity and somehow it has failed. We should just move on to embrace another God. When people call of the little “g” of government to replace the big “G” of God this is nothing more than theft. GK Chesterton answered this question the best when he wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
Because almost seventy years after Bishop Sheen began his TV ministry we are need of some strong words on this subject, I have decided to write this article. Are you just going through the motions of life? If you are you are like millions of other Americans-living life without realizing they are doing so with little or no meaning. Are you trapped in a maze of competing situations that seem to be sucking the living energy right out of your soul?
Well, if you are, you would be a typical person living in the US. The US, the once greatest nation in the world, is now facing the problem that the youngest generation will not live at the same level as their parents.
This is a problem and this problem worries most people- but is it the problem that many of us actually worry about? The answer is a resounding no.
The problem really is how we view things. Or to put it another way, we simply lack eternal clarity. Many of us think day by day. We wake up- live that day and then do it again and again, again and again. We are stringing together a series of one day experiences. We are not thinking about the eternal. Yet soon enough we all know that we will face the eternal. My question here is why not plan for it today.
Are you happy? Are you truly happy?
I was talking with a student the other day and they mentioned that they were anxious about the future and nervous. I am telling you right here and right now, unless and until you live a Christ centered life you will be anxious and nervous- you will be that until you change the way you think GK Chesterton wrote, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
This is the theme of article- our ideals are not wrong- we simply have not tried them. Are these almost the same words as Paul wrote in his letter?
We can not just read about something- we must act upon it. We can not simply talk about something we must do it. We are not simply Catholic by lip service- we must be Catholic by thought, word, and deeds. Service is not for others, it is for us. We should do something to build up the community not to build us up. Inflated opinions of ourselves will deflate us in the eyes of others.
In his 1931 essay entitled, a young Father Fulton Sheen wrote, “ America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance - it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”
Whether it was the Maccabees of the Old Testament or Paul in the New Testament right is right and we should not try to make what is right by what is going on in a community.
These words were written almost 90 years ago yet it is as fresh and crisp as if it were penned today. Things have not changed, that is why the Bible is important yesterday, today and tomorrow. Paul traveled around Anatolia and set up many local parishes. Once he left- problems appeared. He did not cause the problems. People did. We can not make morals by following the whims of the majority of people. Right is right now and forever. Some things do not change. Should we change our morals like we change our clothes?
Paul explained it this way, “Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, not intimidated in any way by your opponents.”
Paul knew that If you do not live what you believe, you will end up believing what you live. This is why Paul was so upset with some of these Churches. People have free will and may exercise not in the very best of ways. Do not become one of those people.
This is true today. We can not nor should not express our belief in something and then act the opposite. What are we saying here? Will our actions speak louder than our words?
Take up your cross. Take up your cross. Do not make Crosses for others and do not crucify others for the same thing that we are doing our self.
Remember on the TV show Life is Worth Living, Bishop Fulton Sheen explained it this way, “ Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.”
We must stand up and fight for what is right. We should follow the words of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill when he said, We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. We must fight, fight and fight.”
We are in a war and many of us do not realize we are in it, let alone realize that we are slowly losing this battle. Today the battle lines are carefully drawn- but these have always been drawn. What is right now is still what was right at the time of Christ. Christ did not and will not desert us but can we say the same about us? Did we desert Christ? If you realize that we need to get back to Christ and live accordingly then you have understood what it takes for Living The Worthy Life.
Remember embrace Christ and his teachings. Do not be led astray, men or women who advocate the convenience of living differently, the acceptance of the unexceptable, or arrogance of redistribution. Living for today will not help you for the hereafter if you do so only to pile up riches here on earth. Know yourself, know your Church, and most of all know the teachings of Christ. Make sure you are living a Christ centered life and life you will be living will be the worthy life. The choice is now yours- what are you going to do about it? Are we doing what we want or are we doing what He wants?
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